Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer who operated in Milwaukee in the late ’80s and early ’90s, eventually sentenced to almost a thousand years in prison for the murder of seventeen people. A child molester and alcoholic who would eventually try to turn his victims into semi-conscious sex zombies by injecting acid into their brains, Dahmer was arrested after one of his victims managed to escape his apartment (where dismembered body parts languished in his refrigerator and in a large plastic tub in the corner of his living room). Soon gory details emerged about severed heads and penises strewn about his home, and about how Dahmer took to eating bits of his victims’ flesh. In the early ’90s, in which tabloid media reigned supreme and famous serial killer trading cards were printed, the case was a sensation.
“The Jeffrey Dahmer Files” takes a more subdued approach. It focuses on the summer of 1991, in which Dahmer was captured, and interviews only three participants – the lead detective (a bushy mustached man named Pat Kennedy), the medical examiner (Jeffrey Jentzen) and Dahmer’s next door neighbor in the low income apartment building where he lived (Pamela Bass). All three are lively interview subjects, deeply affected by the case in their own unique way. And they all have amazing stories to tell that you probably haven’t heard before.
Bass, in particular, does much to illuminate the class issues involved in the case. The apartment building where Dahmer and Bass lived, she explained, was on the wrong side of the tracks, and many of his victims were undesirables that the police failed to properly investigate. Had these been affluent white kids Dahmer had been picking off (and eating), would he have been caught before he killed almost twenty people?